HenryG Announces Retirement From Casting in Interview With DeKay

Henry "HenryG" Greer is retiring from CS:GO casting
Henry "HenryG" Greer is retiring from CS:GO casting | Photo courtesy of ESL

After spending nearly six years as a member of on-screen broadcast talent in professional CS:GO, Henry "HenryG" Greer has decided to hang up the microphone. His legacy as a commentator will be cemented forever, having racked up one of the most decorated resumes in the industry. Since late 2014, he has worked in a total of 150 events and casted 10 Major tournaments. 

He will be remembered most for his time with casting partner Matthew "Sadokist" Trivett, with the two having often been referred to as one of the greatest commentating duo to ever work in Esports. Colorful remarks such as “What a blunder!” and “Why’s he done that?” will be missed by the entire Counter-Strike community with his departure.

In conjunction with this retirement announcement, HenryG sat down with Jarek “DeKay” Lewis and discussed the ups and downs of his time as one of the premier CS:GO commentators.

Jarek "DeKay" Lewis: So here we are, at long last. You’re hanging up the microphone. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. What exactly led up to this moment?

Henry "HenryG" Greer: I’m sure everyone was expecting regular scheduled programming to resume and that I would eventually be back on your screens, putting on the cans and giving it hell.

As much as I wish that was the case. It’s not.

This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make and it is one that I don’t take lightly. This has been my entire life for close to a decade and I can assure you that I didn’t want it to go down like this.

After years of hard work culminating in winning the ‘Esports Broadcaster of the year’ award towards the end of 2019. A fantastic accomplishment, something you would think most would be celebrating for weeks to come. I was, but It was a hollow victory, at best. I realised that I was pretty much done with commentary. It simply wasn’t making me happy anymore. I was jaded beyond belief at the schedule of work each and every year and the broadcasts in general just weren’t evolving in any sort of groundbreaking way. It was the never-ending travelling circus of CS:GO and in all honesty, my memories of all those events just blur into one at times.

I have been very blessed in my career and have achieved almost all of my goals and tangible objectives. The older I get and as the years seem to flash by, I realise that the pace of the job is getting almost too much for me. The quality level of commentating I could once always deliver is slowly slipping out of my grasp.

Arenas and stadiums are where I always wanted to be. I never wanted to be in a studio or sat at home commentating online CS. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I am fueled by the thrill of the crowd, the pageantry and magic of esports combined creating stages that truly test the competitors and us, as commentators, to the absolute maximum of our potential.

We strive every single show day to blow the roof off and keep the spirit CS alive and well. I really do hope you feel like we delivered on that promise over the years, at least to some extent.

With the global situation, CS:GO is now an online affair and we will have to make do for now. No one has any control over that. I just see this as a good opportunity to call it a day and start being able to funnel my focus into avenues that I find challenging and rewarding.

I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention that certain recent experiences played a huge role in my decision. I simply cannot face the reality of returning to the mic. Ever. (Editor's note: In June, Greer was accused of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse by ex-girlfriend Kelly Jean. Greer denied sexually abusing Jean)

I have certainly had feelings of retirement for a while now, but I had a road-map for how I wanted to go out. In my way. There was more to do.

That opportunity has been gutted from me. My commentary legacy now lies among the rubble along with so much more that I hold dearly to my heart. However, I flat out refuse to allow that situation to define me as a person, or as a professional going forward.

I have never been hungrier to conquer my next challenge.

On the 7th of September - you’ll see that I’m not kidding when I say that my next move is going to be a colossal one for the CS:GO community.

JL: You worked 150 events as a member of talent in CS:GO. Did you know you had even worked that many? How does that make you feel?

HG: Ha! I actually had no idea. 150 sounds completely mad, doesn’t it? All I ever really knew was that it isn’t too uncommon for me to average 300+ days a year abroad.

Now that we’ve tallied them all up, that is kind of absurd. It sort of all blurs into one. In the peak of the maniacal years, it would be pretty standard procedure to take on 3 live events a month.

Looking back at my career; I do feel proud, which is a relief. As humans, we are constantly chasing our dreams, goals and aspirations and to accomplish them, you have to dedicate your life to them. I felt like I did that, and then some. For better or for worse, I don’t think I could have physically or mentally given anything more to my career in CS:GO esports commentary.

JL: Tell me about that journey of starting from the bottom as a commentator. Do you look back on it fondly?

HG: Coming into CS:GO very late in 2014, I was almost a nobody once again after retiring from professional play in Counter Strike: Source in 2011. Unless you closely followed our scene back in the day, it was difficult to recall any of the accolades from Valve’s unloved monster that was always overshadowed by its predecessor.

I had no followers, no platform and essentially had to work out if this would be a viable career move for me. I was deep in an event management career in the games industry and halfway up a ladder that I knew wasn’t my true passion.

Making the leap of faith to full time esports, was not quite as glamorous as it seems today. The compensation was extremely low. The living conditions were poor and we would keep ourselves going with our determination of ‘making it’.

The journey that Sadokist and I went on to take over the commentary world, is one that I will never forget. We went above and beyond to prove ourselves and hone our craft. I have never worked so hard for something in my life.

I was a pretty terrible commentator when I first started working with him in 2015. I was aware that I was nowhere near Matt’s level. This was good for me, I realized that if I was ever going to stand a chance, I had to learn and absorb everything I could from his talent and fully commit to breaking out of my comfort zone.

He was, of course, very difficult to keep up with and it certainly took me a while to get into the zone. But I found that process so enjoyable and fruitful. I wouldn’t change anything.

JL: Any regrets or moments that you could have handled differently?

HG: I suppose the mentality that made me so successful in Esports, sadly, transpired into my biggest downfall. The one real regret I will carry around for me for the rest of my days, due to this period in my life - is how distant and jaded I became due to the unfathomable workload and constant stress of being on camera almost every single day of my life.

When you tune into our broadcasts, you would be forgiven in thinking that we are a group of happy-go-lucky, energetic bunch of esports fans who would do this until the end of time, driven by nothing more than their passion and love for the game. That is true, to a certain extent.

After years of uncertainty surrounding our livelihoods and countless broken promises from the tournament organizers, I am sad to report that nothing has or ever did really change, in that regard. The only time we would get any real leverage and feel valued is when other talent would start being phased out or walked away due to their disdain of the working environment. The money would go up and we would be promised the world to keep us happy for 6 months until we would have the same damage-control meetings, when it would be the same old story. I wish I could say I handled all of the above well. I really didn’t.

I managed to keep up with my professional life and the pace demanded by my employers, but it came with the unenviable sacrifice of my entire personal life. I was exhausted, emotionally unavailable and deeply depressed due to the circumstances I had willingly committed to, and just generally a nightmare to be around when I was having a rough time or feeling sorry for myself.

I have lost a lot of truly beautiful people in my life due to my perpetually fatigued and selfish mindset. I’m sure a few of those individuals reading this still harbor some resentment towards me and how our relationship would inevitably transpire.

I am truly sorry for that. I’m aware I wasn’t nearly present enough for others and didn’t fight for them to be part of my life. I allowed this career to devour my heart.

I hope with my decision to step away from the microphone will allow me to start accepting love and friendship back into my life. Hopefully, it’s not too late.

JL: How about some advice for those who are looking to step up and fill the gigantic hole you’ll be leaving in the talent pool. Got anything for them?

HG: Establish what makes you happy, whether you need those things to operate as a healthy person. Try and keep those things available to you at all times. For me, I have been very fortunate to secure a very safe bubble of friends that I consider family. That can be a very rare experience in this industry.

You will be entering a sycophantic world full of fair-weather friends. Some of these people will be there for you, telling you just how fantastic you are, when everything is on the upwards trajectory. But, of course, the same people will quickly turn their back and will be nowhere to be seen, once things aren’t quite as bright as they once were before.

In its current state, Esports fame is a mask that eats away at the face. Not one company is willing to offer any sort of long term contracts and sees the talent as purely a commodity with a stock value that influences whether they will hire you.

Once you do get hired, they will be very quick to remind you that your colleagues have quoted a lower price and they’ll have to get back to you. Leaving you confused and worried about the prospect of work. Of course, you will have to bend the knee. Just to be safe. The next step is Stockholm syndrome and you will find yourself accepting any and all work [note the aforementioned 150+ events] just to keep yourself relevant. Constantly bending over backwards and operating way above your paycheck just to keep up appearances with your multiple employers.

The people in charge of these decisions and conversations, you know who you are, and if you are guilty of this, I hope you’re fucking ashamed of yourselves. You saved your company a few hundred euros and destroyed the passion of a lot of promising (and established) individuals and forced them to move on. I truly hope it was worth it.

I was very lucky to be at the top of the commentary food chain, and you can see what detrimental effects it still had on me. I fear for the future of my colleagues that haven’t been as successful. I can see the desperation in some of their social media presence and it stems from the problems stated above. Warping their personalities to align with their employers ideals. I’m not sure what the solution is, I wish I did.

Finally, always try to maintain some level of love and compassion in your heart for those around you. This is a lifestyle that most won’t be able to handle, and you have to look out for the squad if you’re all going to get through it. Esports is amazing, but it still has some ways to go yet.

JL: Anyone you’d like to thank?

HG: I know this interview probably wasn’t quite as positive as everyone would have expected. I am sorry for that. I know we’ve had a rough run of it here in cs:go this week. This was important to me to get all of this fire out of my system before I move onto my next challenge and hopefully bring some of that hype and excitement back for us. That’s what CS:GO is all about and we deserve it right now.

Also, I would like to thank you all for having me for so many wonderful years. I hope that you’ll remember my commentary for my passion and dedication to the game. Although it wasn’t perfect, I am more than satisfied with the work I put out there over the years and hopefully, I have left a lasting mark in the commentary world.

This has been so hard to write. Thank you so much for listening, then and now.

JL: You have now played at the highest level in Counter-Strike and casted at the highest level in CS:GO. I’ve been sworn to secrecy over your future, but is there a little bit more you can share with our readers about what you have planned?

HG: As mentioned at the start of this, I am announcing my plans for the future within CS:GO on the 7th of September @ 8PM CEST over on my twitter (@HenryGcsgo).

As for clues, all I will say is this - this will be the most ambitious challenge I have ever undertaken in my life. I couldn’t be more excited to show the world what I have been working on behind closed doors. I have the right crew around me and we’re making fantastic progress.

The horizon of a new dawn is upon us.

-HenryG